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Morning Headlines: Ohio Curfew Shortened Thanks to Falling Hospitalizations; UH Discovers U.K. COVID-19 Variant in Lab Samples

Photo rendering of the COVID-19 virus.
PIXABAY
University Hospitals officials say new forms of COVID-19 that spread much faster are already circulating in Northeast Ohio. A UH spokesperson says variants have showed up in COVID-19 patient samples as far back as December.

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, January 28:

  • Ohio curfew shortened thanks to falling hospitalizations
  • UH discovers U.K. COVID-19 variant in lab samples
  • Husted won’t run for Senate while others declare interest
  • GOP lawmakers renew effort to limit governor’s powers
  • Summit County schools expect vaccinations to begin Feb. 8
  • GAR Foundation invests $200K to connect minorities to COVID resources
  • Groups ask utilities commission to investigate ex-chairman
  • Ohio Supreme Court to consider limits of victims rights law
  • Liquor sales boomed in 2020
  • Barley House to lose its liquor license
  • 100 Ohio National guard military police deployed to Washington

Ohio curfew shortened thanks to falling hospitalizations
The statewide curfew has been moved back one hour, to 11 p.m. Gov. Mike DeWine shortened the curfew Wednesday as a result of the seventh day of COVID-19 hospitalizations below 3,500. DeWine has said that if the downward trend holds for two weeks, he will move the curfew to midnight, and eventually cancel it. Details can be found here.

UH discovers U.K. COVID-19 variant in lab samples
University Hospitals officials say new forms of COVID-19 – that spread much faster -- are already circulating in Northeast Ohio. A UH spokesperson says variants have showed up in COVID-19 patient samples as far back as December, but it is thought that they do not account for many of the cases in Northeast Ohio. Case Western Reserve University researcher Mark Cameron says we know of at least two new variants in Ohio - one that originated in the U.K., and one first discovered in Columbus.

Husted won’t run for Senate while others declare interest
After hinting that he might run for U.S. Senate in 2022, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says he’s going to keep his current job. In a statement Wednesday, Husted said that after mulling over the idea since Republican Rob Portman’s surprise announcement to not seek re-election, he says his sights are on the governor’s office someday. Husted was elected as Gov. Mike DeWine’s running mate in 2018, and says his skills and passion are focused at the state level. Meanwhile, Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken says she is seriously considering a run for Senate, among other GOP hopefuls. Several Democrats have also floated interest. The latest is former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman.

GOP lawmakers renew effort to limit governor’s powers
A state lawmaker from northwest Ohio has not given up on efforts to limit the governor’s power to impose health orders. Gov. Mike DeWine last year vetoed a bill proposed by Republican State Sens. Kristina Roegner of Hudson and Rob McColley of Napoleon that would have limited his ability to enact statewide quarantine or isolation orders. Now McColley is proposing an oversight committee that could strike down an order from the governor or his health department after 10 days, and limit state of emergency orders to 30 days.

Summit County schools expect vaccinations to begin Feb. 8
A shortage of vaccine doses is slowing the planned immunization program for local schools. The Beacon Journal reports that the agency coordinating the vaccine rollout in Summit County says it will be a couple of weeks before there will be enough doses for all teachers and staff. Gov. Mike DeWine had set a target of Feb. 1 for the vaccine rollout, but school administrators were told Wednesday that Feb. 8 is a better target date. Akron Children’s Hospital will provide vaccines for Akron Public Schools, Copley-Fairlawn, Coventry, Stow-Munroe Falls, Tallmadge and Woodridge. Discount Drug Mart and other private pharmacies and providers are distributing shots for Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson other districts in the region.

GAR Foundation invests $200K to connect minorities to COVID resources
Akron’s GAR Foundation wants to connect minority communities with credible information about COVID-19, including information about vaccines. The foundation has committed $200,000 to a program called Know COVID. Grants will be distributed to Summa Health and Cleveland Clinic Akron General, along with seven neighborhood organizations. GAR’s Bronlynn Thurman says they hope to address longstanding racial inequities the pandemic has exacerbated.

Groups ask utilities commission to investigate ex-chairman
Environmental advocacy groups have asked the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to expand an investigation into an alleged bribery scandal to include an examination of the panel's former chairman. The Environmental Law & Policy Center and Ohio Environmental Council on Wednesday submitted a filing to the utilities commission asking to investigate whether FirstEnergy Corp., a utility under scrutiny on multiple fronts, tried to influence former chairperson Sam Randazzo. Randazzo resigned soon after the FBI searched his Columbus townhome and FirstEnergy revealed that former top executives had paid a utility regulator matching his description $4 million to end a consulting contract.

Ohio Supreme Court to consider limits of victims rights law
The Ohio Supreme Court is considering a case that will define some of the parameters and limits of a crime victims' rights law that amended the state's Constitution in 2017. The state’s highest court heard arguments on Wednesday on whether Marsy’s Law allows a victim to sit at the prosecutor’s table during a trial. A man convicted on rape and kidnapping charges wants the verdict overturned and to be given a new trial because his accuser sat at the prosecutor’s table during the trial. Among other things, Marsy’s Law requires police to notify victims of their right to be present at all court proceedings involving their case.

Liquor sales boomed in 2020
The pandemic has been hard on the economy, but Ohio liquor sales are booming according to state officials. The Ohio Division of Liquor Control says sales jumped 19% last year to a record $1.57 billion. Those sales could rise even higher after Gov. Mike DeWine this month signed a bill allowing the home delivery of liquor. Ohioans purchased nearly 17 million gallons of the hard stuff last year, a 10% increase by volume over 2019.

Barley House to lose its liquor license
A popular downtown Cleveland bar is losing its liquor license following multiple coronavirus health order violations. The Ohio Liquor Control Commission has revoked the alcohol permit of Barley House effective March 24. Cleveland.com reports Barley House is accused of violating state laws and health orders four times. Most recently, the bar was accused of “disorderly activities” Nov. 14, which includes things like failing to make sure patrons are socially distanced.

100 Ohio National guard military police deployed to Washington
The Ohio National Guard is sending 150 military police based in Toledo to Washington, D.C. in anticipation of civil unrest in the coming weeks. Cleveland.com reports the activation of the 323rd Military Police Company comes just days after 1,000 Ohio National Guard troops returned home from D.C. to provide security for President Biden’s inauguration. The troops from Toledo, along with those from other states, are expected to be in Washington through